The last twenty comments in true blog fasion, with the links to their authors and the player commented upon.

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Mychal Givens Baltimore Orioles

At least three, Tim? You don't know?

Alex Patton Alex
Andrew McCutchen Philadelphia Phillies

Okay, this really is the last. If I cut and paste any more, The Athletic is going to sue me. But I include this one to show -- conclusively, I think -- that I really should subscribe to it.

Andrew McCutchen: I bragged that I could tell you what the projections will be off the top of my head, but I would have been wrong on Cutch. I figured they would all have him down at least a little, but all four Fangraphs systems have him bouncing back at age 32. Just to vary the yardsticks, they say his wOBA will be between .350 and .363. Although I’m supposed to be dissing, I think this consensus should be respected – and given the inherent conservatism of projections, they may be telling us that a big year is coming. Citizens Bank Park is an additional factor, but also add two non-statistical realities: he’s always in great shape, and he never misses a trick on a baseball field. With some players you have to worry that they’ll do something stupid, with McCutchen you know he’ll do something smart. And by the way, his Sprint Speed says he’s still faster than Starling Marte.

Doesn't mean I'm going to.

Alex Patton Alex
Mychal Givens Baltimore Orioles

Unless those really bad teams have good young arms that are under team control for an extended period, like Jose LeClerc in Texas. Analyzing closers and bullpen situations in detail simply has to occur to improve the odds for success. If one wishes to reward, instead of punish the middle-reliever in 5x5 Leagues, there is an easy answer. Simply change the Saves category to Saves + (Holds/2). I have at least three Mixed 5x5 15-team Leagues that now use this metric and it works great. It rewards the setup/middle reliever while not destroying the traditional closer role and value.

Tim McLeod tlmcleod
Matt Chapman Oakland Athletics

No, one more (Wise Guy excerpt from an article posted now at The Athletic):

Matt Chapman: If projections are now accounting for hard contact and fly balls into launch angles, it would seem that these systems lack self-confidence. Why else call for .248 with Chapman’s Top 25 hard contact rate? His strikeouts are not bad by today’s standards at 23.7%. In fact he hit .278 in 547 ABs. His career BA is .263 and he’s 26 in April. If you want to minimize the error on his BA you make it .267.

Say what you will (under Givens), this is good stuff.

Alex Patton Alex
Trevor Story Colorado Rockies

One more form the Wise Guy (the other two are under Nola and Soto):     

Trevor Story: Six projections, and not one has him stealing more than 20 bases. He stole 27 last year based on elite Sprint Speed, and with 82% success there is no reason to expect the slightest decline.
Alex Patton Alex
Juan Soto Washington Nationals

More from the Wise Guy, taking projections to task for The Athletic:

Juan Soto: I say “they’re all the same” so let’s do The Lockstep: the “Fangraphs Four” all have him between .292 and .294, all 27-29 HRs, a Run spread from 88 to 93, RBI from 86 to 92, and 6 or 7 SB. His OPS varies from .906 to .910. I guess we’ve got him pegged. Notice something in there that is quite common in projections: low production estimates. If Juan Soto has a .908 OPS, he’s going 100/100 easy.
Alex Patton Alex
Aaron Nola Philadelphia Phillies

Okay, thanks to one of our members who does subscribe, here's what the Wise Guy says about Nola.


Aaron Nola: Systems take Nola’s 2016 into account, but his 2016 has nothing to do with Aaron Nola 2019. He got better in 2017, he got better still in 2018 and, now, here he is. To call him at a 3.55 ERA, as both Depth Charts and Steamer do, is flat wrong. Again THE BAT shows a little moxey with a more reasonable 3.20, but that too is high. We can quibble but I daresay 2.85 is the over/under here. And not one of the “Fangraphs Four” has Nola pitching 200 innings.

Alex Patton Alex
Mychal Givens Baltimore Orioles

One big thing to worry about, in this day and age, is that really bad teams trade their closers mid-year.

Thus - everyone knew the Royals would suck last year.  Their over/under was 67.5 wins coming into the season.  But Kelvin Herrera was still close to a 30 save pace ... until he got shipped to Washington.

San Diego was tabbed for 73.5 wins.  They actually underperformed that.  But Brad Hand looked like he'd save about 35 games ... until he got shipped to Cleveland.

Phil Ponebshek Texpope

Took a look at some historically bad teams that came to mind to check Rotoman's hypothesis out.  According to BR, the '03 Tigers had 43 wins, 27 saves, but divided among 8 players, with none getting more than 5.  In contrast, the '13 Astros had 32 saves in 51 wins, with Jose Veras getting 19.  The team put up similar numbers the two previous years, albeit with different primary closers.  So, as with any closer, the variable to apply when determining the bid is "how likely is he to retain the job?"  With a really bad team, one would think the likelihood is great, but I'm not sure it is so great in this instance to discount the bid to mid-single digits.  More like high 8 to 10.  If there is any organization that is the least likely to figure out they should be auditioning different guys out at the end of games, in order to increase their July trade value, it is the O's.  Plus, when wins are at a premium for a team, my guess is that the managerial tendency is not to take the chance on a less proven guy blowing one, if for no other reason than to appease the more shorter sighted of a dwindling fan base.

John Thomas Roll2
David Dahl Colorado Rockies

Exactly. What he has done in the past is supported by the underlying stats. The reason the bids don't go all the way is because 550 plate appearances, while likely, is far from guaranteed. And that BABIP is a small sample. Still, that $18 is too little. He'll get a nice bump in price in the next update.

Peter Kreutzer Rotoman
Mychal Givens Baltimore Orioles

There are plenty of good reasons not to buy middle relievers in 5x5, but that doesn't mean they aren't rosterable during the season (and available on waivers).

The horrible Orioles team means Givens' total saves are likely capped, as Gene says, but assuming Givens is the closer he's going to get 20-30 saves and will be a better roster than your sixth or seventh starter. What Gene meant to say was don't listen to the people who used to say a closer on a bad team could get as many saves as a closer on a good team.

That was true then, when bad teams weren't as bad as today's bad teams are.

Peter Kreutzer Rotoman

I'm with you ... 5x5 punishes middle relievers at the auction.

We know that some middle relievers will actually make nice returns ... but we don't know which ones, and there's no point in speculating.

OTOH in 4x4, closers are so much more valuable, and so the #2's and even #3's get bought up as lottery tickets with little downside.

You can always turn SBs into SB+runs.

But yeah, I don't see anything smart about WiseGuy's analysis here.  Nobody's buying Ryne Stanek as a "starter".  Meanwhile Yarbrough had 9 wins where he entered the game in the 2nd or 3rd inning.

We're smart enough to figure this stuff out.

Phil Ponebshek Texpope
Jimmy Yacabonis Baltimore Orioles

Jimmy Yacabonis (P) BAL - Feb. 19

Yacabonis is viewed as a starter by Orioles manager Brandon Hyde but could also be used in long relief, Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports.

ROTOWIRE RECOMMENDS: Yacabonis has started seven games and relieved in 19 so far in his two-year big-league career, but he hasn't had much success in either role. He owns a 4.76 ERA as a starter and a 5.29 ERA out of the bullpen. 


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Alex Patton Alex
Dan Vogelbach Seattle Mariners

Note the Hard%.

On the other hand, they may shift the third baseman as well as the shortstop over to the second base side when he bats.

Alex Patton Alex
Mychal Givens Baltimore Orioles

I've got Givens at $2 and am obviously keeping him.

Apparently Wise Guy equates an 'opener' with a starting pitcher. The opener is a relief pitcher, not a starter, so his argument makes no sense.

As does his argument to dump saves and wins. I hear people who play 5x5 complaining all the time that middle relievers get no love. They're buying starting pitchers to chase the K's and Wins. My solution: drop K's and go back to 4x4. The middle relievers have always been appreciated in 4x4: good ERA, Whip, possible save sources. I've got nothing against the Runs category, but the hitting and pitching categories should probably be equal.

Old school, baby! Back to the future...

Scott Shea SJS
Dan Vogelbach Seattle Mariners

Daniel Vogelbach (1B) SEA - Feb. 19

Vogelbach reported to camp noticeably trimmer Monday and will compete with Ryon Healy for starting first-base duties during camp, Greg Johns of reports.

ROTOWIRE RECOMMENDS: Vogelbach didn't provide a number for his weight loss, but manager Scott Servais came away impressed with the 26-year-old's body transformation while he faces an important battle this spring. In addition to vying for the top spot on the depth chart at first base -- for which he enters camp as the underdog -- Vogelbach may need to perform well this spring just to keep his spot on the 40-man roster. Vogelbach is out of minor-league options and the lack of defensive versatility he provides may make it difficult for the Mariners to justify keeping him around as a bench piece.

Alex Patton Alex
Miguel Sano Minnesota Twins

Miguel Sano (3B) MIN - Feb. 19

Sano was spotted Tuesday with a boot on his right foot to protect the laceration on his heel, Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

ROTOWIRE RECOMMENDS: While players often use walking boots when tending to sprains, bone or ligament damage pertaining to the foot, Sano appears to be using his mainly for precautionary purposes. Since the cut on the back of his foot is fairly sizable and keeps reopening, Sano will use the boot to keep his bandaging over the wound in place. The Twins could limit Sano's fielding and baserunning work early in camp as a result, but the injury is nothing that should jeopardize his availability for Opening Day.

Alex Patton Alex
Josh Reddick Houston Astros

Josh Reddick (OF) HOU - Feb. 19

Reddick worked off a batting tee placed on the outer third of plate Monday, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.

ROTOWIRE RECOMMENDS: Reddick endured his worst season in 2018 -- his .718 OPS represented a drop of 129 points from the previous season. The problem, according to Reddick, was a focus on the inner third of the plate. That led to more extreme shifts because he wasn't a threat to hit the other way. The 31-year-old outfielder pulled 36 percent of his batted balls in 2017, when he had a career-high .847 OPS, but his pull rate increased to 45 percent in 2018. The left-handed-hitting Reddick is expected to open the season as the starting right fielder, but with top position prospect Kyle Tucker on the precipice of the majors, Reddick could quickly lose plate appearances if he shows no improvement in terms of plate coverage.

Alex Patton Alex
Mike Moustakas Milwaukee Brewers

Comeback from ... the 3rd best WAR season of his 8 year career?

Phil Ponebshek Texpope
Jonathan Gray Colorado Rockies

Jon Gray (P) COL - Feb. 19

Gray said Monday that he reported to camp at 235 pounds after dedicating himself to heavy lifting in the offseason in addition to "eating anything and everything," Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post reports.

ROTOWIRE RECOMMENDS: Gray tipped the scales at as few as 209 pounds at one point last season, so his weight increase is fairly significant. While adding that kind of mass could been seen as a negative development for most players, it may be beneficial for the 6-foot-4 Gray, who boasts the frame to carry the extra pounds. Rather than any change in his physique, Gray's ability to bounce back from a rough 2018 campaign may hinge on his ability to gain more mental focus in tight spots. Opposing batters slashed .306/.379/.506 against Gray when at least one runner was on base last season, saddling him with a subpar 67.9 percent strand rate. The Rockies are tentatively penciling Gray in as their No. 4 starter behind Kyle Freeland, German Marquez and Tyler Anderson.

Alex Patton Alex

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